on the field of reason
David Frum in his column at the Week, writes:
The guns are coming out. The risks are real.
It’s not enough for conservatives to repudiate violence, as some are belatedly beginning to do. We have to tone down the militant and accusatory rhetoric. If Barack Obama really were a fascist, really were a Nazi, really did plan death panels to kill the old and infirm, really did contemplate overthrowing the American constitutional republic—if he were those things, somebody should shoot him.
But he is not. He is an ambitious, liberal president who is spending too much money and emitting too much debt. His health-care ideas are too ambitious and his climate plans are too interventionist. The president can be met and bested on the field of reason—but only by people who are themselves reasonable.
Others disagree, and say that this amounts to is the liberal media’s attempt to blow things out of proportion. I don’t think so. Even if this is just a very small, very vocal portion of America, what’s being created is a culture of common sentiment that is the perfect incubator for violent action.
Yes, the crazies will act with or without talk-radio’s insistence. No, talk-radio is not to blame directly for inspring right-wing violence. However, when enough of these fairly mainstream conservative voices – Beck, Limbaugh, Hannity – are all saying similarly terrifying things, and a wide enough swath of Americans believe them you begin to see an actual cultural shift and a shift in accepted behavioral norms surrounding the political debate. The real danger lies in the shaping of this hysterical, irrational culture, not in the direct inspiration of the lone gunmen who was crazy to begin with.
I have small hopes that a real battle – one fought, as Frum puts it, “on the field of reason” – will take place any time soon. But small hopes are better than none at all.